Rape Culture Starts with School Dress Codes

Fri, 09/16/2016 - 06:27
Submitted by Carlin Ross

The young girl in this picture was pulled out of class because she violated the school dress code in Kentucky by showing her collarbones. Upworthy has more pictures of girls pulled out of class and humiliated while missing valuable class time waiting for their parents to come down to school.  From Portland to Kentucky, it's an every day occurrence.  

When we hear about young girls getting escorted down to the principle's office for improper dress, we think of miniskirts and tube tops (all of which were fine in the 70's).  Almost every school in America has a dress code that's solely enforced against girls.  There's something so sick about adults looking young girls up and down and deciding that a collarbone or the outline of a calf are obscene.   

As a young girl growing up in a religious cult, I know that this sort of blame-the-girl protect-our-boys mentality shifts responsibility for sex away from boys and on to girls perpetuating the rape culture.  I was walked out of class because I hadn't buttoned the top button on my oxford shirt. It cut into my neck and I wasn't even exposing my full collarbone.  Just that one button revealing an inch of skin was too much for the boys.  The adults had to step in...humiliate me...I learned nothing in school that day except that I was dirty.  

Dress codes should be applied uniformly to both genders.  And I know that girls dressing in comfortable, average clothing isn't tempting boys into sex.  Kids are programmed to seek sex play to keep our species on the planet.  Instead of obsessing on girls why not have conversations about consent, give them a context for pornography, and treat them as equal human beings?

These are the conversations I will have with my son.  He will understand that he alone is responsible for his actions.  He will accept girls as equal people with sexual agency.  Sex will be sacred.  Sex will be safe.  Sex will be fun with whomever he decides to share himself.   

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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re: dress

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 06:54

I don't know that my reaction to your article is actually a matter of "disagreement," but please consider this, from our son:

"Regarding our daughter that just graduated, we have forbade her from certain dress and activity, in order to protect her from provoking a situation that could go beyond her control and in order to maintain a certain respectable image, we've put the brakes on a few times.  Regardless of whether her friends parents lacked that sense.


Sometimes you have to save them from themselves.  I'd rather be known by her as a hard-ass than be known around town as the guy whose daughter was found in a ditch.


I don't even want to hear parents' excuses about boosting self-esteem, or letting them be themselves, or having freedom of expression.  By exposing those kids to disrespect, objectification and risk, they are just as negligent as parents that would encourage their kids to play in the street."

Bottom line, Carlin, is that a responsible parent has every right to exercise their judgement and authority regarding a minor living at home.

Get with the times, mmmkay?

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 23:32
Daughter of a Prosecutor (not verified)

Victim blame much?
I can kick a guy's ass in just about any outfit if he decides to put me in a "situation beyond [my] control"
And sadly, it doesn't matter what your daughter is wearing. If someone wants to do her harm, a turtleneck won't stop them. 

uncomfortable

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 06:06

Sometimes you have to save them from themselves.

But clearly women and girls don't rape themselves. Your son's emphasis on controlling the woman or girl (your granddaughter?) rather than being outraged by the crime of the sexual predator must make you very uncomfortable. It makes me feel queasy.
Surely our energy would be better spent making the streets safer and men and boys more aware of the issue of consent and acceptable behaviour. If we spent half the time enforcing social constraints around male predatory behaviour rather than women's dress codes, we'd probably all feel safer.

Of course there should be a

Wed, 10/12/2016 - 02:13

Of course there should be a common sense defining what school uniform requirements are. Everyone knows how uncontrolled teenagers can be and how they maximize everything so it's okay to protect them. What's wrong is going crazy about the most trivial matters. I like the quote from Pimion: "Never go obsessed with over care". You should trust and give enough freedom to other human beings for kids to become self-consistent.

Strongly disagree with you,

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 01:41
Luis (not verified)

Strongly disagree with you, jess!

Meaning?

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 03:45

Jess,
I'm not at all clear about what you mean in your comment "Everyone knows how uncontrolled teenagers can be" Are you really talking about all teenagers or just the male ones? Having two teenage daughters, I don't really recognise your description of them as uncontrolled at all but to be honest it doesn't seem to apply to the sons of my friends either. The young people I know are all perhaps a little idealistic, occasionally self-righteous, but generally respectful of themselves and others. They obviously are new to the world and keen to explore and experiment, but that's not the same as being out of control. It's a parent's job to provide a safe space for their kids to grow, not to box them in or limit them.

When you say you want "kids to become self-consistent" what does that mean? Consistency is a trait I've worried about as a parent, rather than one to worry about in my children. I've tried to raise my girls to value themselves and the people around them, to be empathetic, to be sensitive to the people around them and robust enough to demand the same treatment from others. If anything, it's the double standards around them that infuriate them most of all, the lack of consistency in the world that they struggle to accept, especially when it comes to discrimination and double-standards. 

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